Social behavior competencies of self-identified bullies from a U.S. nationally representative sample of 8–18 year old students

Shannon Rupp, Stephen N. Elliott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This secondary data analysis examined the social behavior competencies of a sample of students from the U.S. ages 8 to 18 who identified themselves as either bullies or non-bullies based on ratings of items on the Social Skills Improvement System – Student Rating Scale (SSIS-S). Specifically, from the nationally representative standardization sample (N = 1375) of the SSIS, 12.1% (n = 167) of the students, 4.9% (n = 67) of females, and 7.3% (n = 100) of males self-identified as displaying high frequencies of bullying behaviors. The social behavior ratings for these self-identified bullies were then compared with all other students in the national sample and analyzed to determine differences among various domains of social skills and problem behaviors. The findings support the assumption that children who bully others are not a homogeneous group. Within the entire self-identified bully group, males showed higher average bullying ratings than females did. Self-reported rating of bullying decreased with age from 8 to 18. Race/Ethnicity was significant for females where the odds of self-identifying as a bully were more than four times greater for Black females as opposed to White females. Interestingly, increases in assertion and self-control ratings were associated with an increased likelihood of self-identifying as a bully for males, but not females. These findings are discussed in terms of existing research and theories regarding children and youths’ bullying behavior. Limitations and recommendations for future research conclude the report.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number105145
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
StatePublished - Sep 2020


  • Behavior ratings
  • Bullying
  • SSIS Rating Scales
  • Self-report

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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